How and why I started stockpiling for my large family, including what I bought, how much I bought, and how I maintain my stock.
Back in 2020, when a lot of items on our store’s shelves were rationed, or completely missing, we found ourselves needing to go to the store (sometimes many different stores) several times a week in order to purchase enough to feed us for the week.
Every single grocery shopping trip wore me out. Not since we were newly married and on a tight budget had I needed to work so hard to put food in our refrigerators and pantries. Going to the grocery store began to cause me anxiety, and there were several times I stood in grocery store aisles staring blankly at the shelves, asking myself what I was going to do to fix this mess.
Stockpiling was how I answered that question.
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How I Started Stockpiling Food for Our Large Family
After over a year of rationing and supply chain issues, in August of 2021, I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to buy a little extra so that I would not be beholden to whatever the grocer could get in stock at whatever price they put on it.
Originally, I was thinking ahead to the holidays – Thanksgiving and Christmas. I wanted normalcy for my family. I wanted our Cranberry Celebration Salad, our Festive Hot Punch, our Creamy Corn Casserole, and Ty’s Granny’s Thanksgiving Dressing. I didn’t want to do without if I didn’t have to, but I knew it was going to take some foresight, so I shopped around and stocked up as needed, and put it all on a shelf in the basement.
Then, the ice storm of 2021 hit, and I wondered if we could survive something like that. (Thankfully, we were not affected by that ice storm, but you never know when something major could happen in your region!)
My husband has a highly specialized background (both civilian and military) that taught him preparedness in a way a lot of people don’t think of, so we already had a lot of supplies on hand – including MRE’s (military “Meals Ready to Eat) and medical supplies. But I knew I could do even better with our food options, so I started stockpiling for our large family.
My Large Family Food Stockpile Method
When I first started researching building a stockpile, I found copious amounts of information on the internet, and most of it suggested I buy huge amounts of rice, beans, wheat berries, spam, canned veggies, boxed stuffing, and many other items – many of which our family does not eat. The resounding philosophy was that, “if you’re starving to death, you’ll eat anything.”
Maybe so, but what happens when you have a pantry full of food you don’t eat and you’re NOT starving to death?
Favorite Family Meals as a Starting Point
Sure, I could donate to a food bank (and we do!) or I could force my family to eat food they don’t like, but then I found a YouTube channel that suggested I build my pantry based on meals and foods my family already eats!
And guess what?! I already have a list of meals my family eats! I even wrote a post on the process of putting together your own list of Family Favorite Meals!
Creating a Master Meals & Grocery List
Several of the meals we have on our list use fresh ingredients, but with a few tweaks, I managed to make a “Stockpile Meals List” that looked similar but could be made with shelf-stable-ish ingredients. From there, I created a stockpile list that resembled the Master Grocery List I put together years ago except this Master List was specific to our stockpile meals list.
Get my Master Grocery List!
This resource will help you create your own Master Grocery List and give you an idea of how to put together a list for your stockpile!
And I DO stockpile freezer goods as well – meat, cheese, and frozen veggies in particular. I know this wouldn’t last in a grid-down situation, but with a large family, I feel like I need to stockpile freezer items as well and deal with the grid-down when/if it happens. In this respect, it is more like my Monthly Grocery Shopping philosophy. You can take or leave that part of the equation, but I have found having a stocked freezer to be quite helpful as well!
Besides my main stockpile, I also make sure we have plenty of MRE’s and quick emergency meals that could be grabbed in case of a natural disaster (think canned meals). We also have water and the ability to sterilize the creek water.
All things considered, we now have a 6 month supply of food that would feed our family of 12+. (The plus includes adult children and spouses, plus grandparents should they need to come live with us.). It won’t be a varied diet toward the end of that 6 month period, but it will keep us alive.
Now, truth be told, I don’t anticipate needing to live entirely off my stockpile for 6 months, but, the benefits of having a 6 month (or even 9-12 month!) stockpile are enormous and most definitely worth the effort. Read on for my favorite benefits of stockpiling…
Benefits of Stockpiling
Starting a stockpile can seem daunting when you are a large family, but the benefits of having a miniature grocery story in your own home are immense!
- I can wait for sales on favorite items and stock up then rather than buying at higher prices. I have been able to buy peanut butter, mayonnaise, salsa, and many other items at a good price and avoid impulse buying because I have enough on hand to get by until the next sale.
- I can skip shopping for several weeks if need be. If there was a natural disaster, a major supply chain issue, sick kids, or I simply want to save money and time for a week or more, I have enough food on hand, to be able to avoid the stores or the need for a grocery shop.
- We can survive (food wise) a major catastrophic event. A job loss or major world event won’t have me worrying about how I am going to feed my family every day. I have food enough on hand to make it for 6 months, and during that time, it is very likely we will be able to find more food to bulk up the stockpile.
- I can be generous. I have enough food on hand to share with guests in our home, people at church, food banks, and family members generously. I love that I have ingredients on hand to whip up a meal for a family in need or potluck at church, and never even bat an eye!
- Meals are quick. With all of the ingredients I need on hand to make just about any meal on the list, I can pull together a meal quickly and easily, saving me a lot of time and headache.
How I Maintain my Large Family Food Stockpile
When I published my podcast on stockpiling, I was maintaining my stockpile fairly frequently and my grocery budget was rather large. You can listen to that podcast below:
However, when 2023 dawned, we found our savings depleted due to several large bills that we had to pay at the end of 2022. We decided the best way to build it back up was to tighten up our grocery budget substantially (we did $100/week for the month of January), and in the process, we ran down our stockpile without building it back up…on purpose.
Once we had recovered financially a bit, we would rebuild the stockpile during a single month’s worth of grocery shops, and not try to maintain it every week, but rather go to a 6 month system of restocking, unless we ran across a REALLY GREAT SALE.
We are currently restocking in February a little at a time and we will do another big restock in August.
Favorite Resources for Learning How to Stockpile
I have learned a lot from a couple of YouTube channels, as well as my friend, Char (who does not have a YouTube channel, but should!).
Char knows how to put together meals from what she has on hand, an invaluable skill that Jessica from Three Rivers Homestead also shares on her channel. I have gained so much confidence in my meal prep watching these two women work!
Knowing how to make meals from your stockpile depends on knowing how to pull together tasty meals from scraps and bits and leftovers and whatever you have on hand at any given time. One of my favorite things Jessica does is her annual Pantry Challenge where she uses up what she has canned and stashed away over the past growing season to make room for the next growing season – so inspiring!
I also mentioned earlier the YouTube channel that taught me to build a stockpile made up of ingredients from our favorite meals. That channel is She’s in Her Apron. She is a Mormon women who does reference LDS resources, but she does most of her shopping from local stores. She keeps it really simple and easy to implement.
NOTE: Many of the resources you will find online for stockpiling are from the LDS. We non-Mormons can learn a lot from how they manage their food rotations and pantries because unfortunately many of us have lost the old skills of food preservation and stockpiling our great-grandmothers knew by heart.
By the way, you should really check out my PODCAST and POST on 100 Years of Meal Planning! I sat down with my 82 year old mother and picked her brain about how she, my grandmother, and my great grandmother meal planned. So interesting (and humbling!).
You should also check out my Large Family Meal Planning page for tons of resources and ideas for feeding your family!
Other Grocery Shopping and Stockpiling Ideas:
Anita Maria Prather says
My husband and I live in a small mobile home. My 8 year old granddaughter spends a lot of time with us. I’m disabled and so is my husband. I’m the one that has been working with my granddaughter with school ect. I’m trying to figure out how to make sure we have enough food etc for all my family ect. We don’t have a way to go. So I try watching the stores that will help get it to us. I look for sale on stuff I know my family will eat. Problem is that some people say that I should not have that much food. I’m trying to figure out where to put it. Ok like last Christmas if I had not had the food I had saved my daughter could not have fixed our Christmas dinner. I’m trying to teach my granddaughter how to have a garden. But because I live in a mobile home park, it’s not going to be easy. I’m also going to try to teach her how to sew. Please let me know if any one has any ideas.
Some people I’ve listened to suggest putting food in tubs underneath beds or trying to find a closet you can spare for an extra pantry. As for gardening, I feel the pain! We don’t live in a mobile home park, but we do live in a very shady lot, so I am partnering with a friend to help in her garden and growing herbs on my deck. Herbs are very forgiving and your granddaughter would probably really enjoy watching them grow!